Sunday, September 27, 2015

Artist Trading Cards

I can hardly wait to introduce Star Academy students of all grade levels to our Artist Trading Card project in a few weeks!  This project worked its way into my curriculum over the summer when I participated in a daily Twitter art challenge for a month with a group of fellow Art teachers from schools across the United States. One of the many amazing things that the Twitter challenge provided me with, was learning about an Artist Trading Card swap for art students at schools all across the United States.

Similar to trading cards of any variety (Pokemon comes to mind) Artist Trading Cards are small, baseball sized cards that are original works of art that can be traded with other artists, in this case, other art students from schools all over the United States.  Star Academy students will make several ATC's exploring various art techniques, mediums, and focus on specific elements of art to create their very own 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" masterpieces.  They will each select one card to send off to the swap and wait patiently to receive ATC's from students at other schools in exchange for our cards.

I am excited to introduce this project to students for a few reasons:

  • Creating art on 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" canvas is FUN!  The space is small, so students are more willing to take chances with their art, knowing that if they don't like it, they can simply make another.
  • I like how ATC's lend themselves to introduce students to a variety of art techniques, mediums, elements, etc and students get choices with their artwork!
  • I am secretly hoping that ATC's will take hold at Star and students will be creating and trading their ATC's with fellow classmates beyond the organized swap.
  • My wheels are spinning with thoughts of turning ATC's into a year long early finisher activity. An Artist Trading Card station could easily be set up in the Art room and students could demonstrate mastery of techniques and art skills by creating ATC's when they finish their class projects.  

Here are a few example ATC's that I made.  I had SO much fun creating these little guys and can't wait to see how my students take to Artist Trading Cards!  Stay tuned for ATC update in a few weeks!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Adventures in Watercolor

Watercolor is such a great "go to" medium to expand from the basic markers and crayons for younger grades a few weeks into a new school year, once basic Art room rules and procedures are established. Not too messy for end of class clean up procedures still in the works, but still provides the satisfaction and magical element of painting that most children seem to love.

Magical and practical elements aside, I have two major issues with watercolors; muted color effect and short lasting color palettes.  I have yet to find a brand of watercolor paints that provides a vibrant enough color to make the medium worth the while.  These two frustrations, paired with a warm and cool color lesson that I've been dying to try, set me out on a google search to find vibrant watercolors.

I was shocked to find the top of my vibrant watercolor google search to be "homemade watercolor recipes."  I compared a few recipes and was off to the local Dollar store for supplies and ingredients.

The supplies:

ice cube trays (or other individual containers such as mini muffin tins)
food color (gel variety was voted as providing most vibrant color)
baking soda
corn starch
light corn syrup
white distilled vinegar

The proportions:

1/2 C baking soda
1/4 C white distilled vinegar
1/4 C corn starch
1/2 t light corn syrup

  • mix the above four ingredients together, pour into divided containers, add several drops of food color to your desired color intensity, mix well and set aside to dry.  Allow 2-3 days for the watercolors to be completely solid in form and ready for use.
  • The above recipe will yield one ice cube tray of primary and secondary colors.  I was able to get 5 palettes made with the food color packets before running out.
The Outcome:

The most vibrant, color intense watercolors I have ever seen!  So happy with the outcome, I'm making a second batch this weekend so each tabletop has two full color palettes to share from.  Can't wait to test them out with 1st and 2nd grade Color Exploration Unit this month!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Faces of Star

The first round of our Monochromatic Self Portraits was a HUGE success!  Students utilized scaffolding strategies from the week prior (yay!) to create amazing features on their faces.  We have been talking a lot about the word "Craftsmanship" in Art and what that means.  Does it mean you are the best artist?  No, craftsmanship in Art class focuses on two very important skills...effort and detail. Boy did I ever see great craftsmanship out of these kiddos today! 

We will continue our Monochromatic Self Portraits on Thursday and then on display they will go.  Can't wait to see the rainbow of bright, smiling faces of Star on display for the whole school to see. Here is a sneak peek at our soon to be wall mural, that will span over 8 feet tall and 18 feet long!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Using Books to teach Art Attitude!

I decided to start the new year in Art class reading a book to each group of students.  I chose "The Dot" by Peter H. Reynolds for 1st and 2nd graders and "Ish" also by Peter H. Reynolds for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.

The Dot storyline is about a girl who doesn't feel confident with her Art skills and won't take a risk to try and create in Art class.  Her teacher pushes her to just make one single dot on her paper and then asks her to her sign her work.  This one little dot and her willingness to try sparks her journey in Art. This is a great story for younger kids, as many can relate to the feeling of not thinking they are able to draw- a mindset I plan on changing this year in Art!

Ish is my all time favorite art book about not feeling like your work has to be perfect.  We've all heard the phrase, blueish or greenish but may not have given the true meaning of "ish" much thought. This story is about a boy who gets teased because his artwork doesn't look like what it is intended to be. Naturally, he shuts down and nothing he draws is good enough anymore.  That is, until his sister helps him see his artwork in a whole new light.  She shows him that his artwork doesn't have to look exactly like what he intends it to be, that having it look art-ish is good enough.  Thinking "ishly" opens up a whole new world of creativity and feeling of content for the boy.

The best moments in the art room for me today? When students were practicing facial features for our upcoming Self portrait wall mural and I would overhear "I don't like the way this nose is looking" to which a fellow table mate would reply, "I don't know, it looks pretty nose-ish to me." Awww!

We could all use a little more "ish" in our lives.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Getting ready for the first day of school!

As the first day of school is approaching fast, teachers are busy getting classrooms ready for a new group of students.  For me, this means starting from scratch.  While a bit daunting, the opportunity to create a classroom from a blank canvas is an exciting task.  I have taught middle school art for the past five years, so while I am not new to teaching art, I am new to teaching art to the younger crew.

My approach to my classroom design? I have taken my middle school art classroom management skills and have adapted and modified where necessary to create an art space that is functional, promotes a positive and creative learning environment and of course, is visually appealing!  It is an art room, after all. Working with an untraditional classroom footprint was a bit of a challenge, but I am happy with the way the room has come along.  Sure, I'll make changes as I go, but for now, I am ready to fill those colorful stools with students who are eager to create art!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Excited for the new school year!

I am SO excited to be bringing an Art program to Star Academy!  Natomas Charter School is an amazing place to teach. Teachers are given the freedom and creativity to develop unique and engaging curriculum (an Art teachers dream).  I have taught Expressive Arts at Leading Edge Academy for the past five years and am thrilled to become a part of Star Academy!

Star kiddos and I will begin our journey together in Art by beginning the year with a Self Exploration Unit.  This unit focuses on the basic Elements of Art and allows me to get to know the kids and make personal connections.

Our first project will be creating Monochromatic Self Portraits that will become a collaborative piece with all grade levels at Star Academy.  The end result will be a colorful wall mural full of inviting self portraits that will greet us every day as we turn the corner to the new Art Room!  Stay tuned to see our original photos of how it turns out!